Ice Hockey

Vikings, Ranked Second In Nation And Riding 11-Game Winning Streak, Prepare For Battle

CONTACT: Jeff Foley (518) 629-8085 or (518) 373-1262
FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Wednesday, February 14, 2001

Hudson Valley's Hockey Team, Looking For Share Of Regular-Season Title, Hosts Region-Leading SUNY Morrisville At 6:30 p.m. Friday

When Ron Kuhl of Clifton Park took over Hudson Valley Community College's hockey program in 1997, he implemented a five-year plan, telling himself the team would consistently win games by the 2001-02 campaign. But now, in Kuhl's fourth season as head coach, it appears that his plan is ahead of schedule.

"This is great," said Kuhl of his club's 19-4 record. (The Vikings are 17-2 against other junior colleges.) "After starting last season with a 5-0 record, I knew we were on the right track. Things have really come together this year, though. We've got kids in place who not only know how to play the game, they know how to win."

Those players, including six skaters from Saratoga High School's 1999 state championship team – Mike Paine, Chris Paine, Adam Finkin, Phil Usas, Kyle Reddon and Mike Santamoor – are in the midst of an 11-game winning streak. The team is ranked second in the nation among National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCCA) teams. This is the highest Hudson Valley's hockey team has ever been ranked.

Additionally, by winning 19 games so far this season, the Vikings have broken the school mark for victories in a season (the 1996-96 squad won 14 games). Kuhl, who endured two losing seasons before posting an 11-11 record last year, is the winningest hockey coach in Hudson Valley history. (He is just the school's second hockey coach; Hudson Valley's team did not gain varsity status until 1993.) He has 40 career victories.

In what promises to be one of the most competitive game of the junior college hockey season, Hudson Valley hosts top-ranked SUNY Morrisville (22-1) at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, February 16. The game, to be played at Troy's Conway Ice Arena, will decide if Hudson Valley shares the NJCAA Region III regular-season title.

Hudson Valley has not lost since December 6, and Morrisville has not dropped a contest since November 11. Since Morrisville has one Region III loss and the Vikings have two, a Hudson Valley victory would ensure a share of the Region III crown. Hudson Valley's regular season ends on February 16, but Morrisville has one game remaining, a showdown with Monroe Community College, the only team to beat them this season.

Hudson Valley has knocked off Monroe twice in 2000-01.

In addition to playing a key role in the regular season standings, the Hudson Valley-Morrisville game will have an impact on post-season standings. Hudson Valley is hosting the NJCAA Region III hockey tournament February 23-25. Hudson Valley and Morrisville have both qualified, and are both shooting for the number-one seed. The winner of the Region III tournament advances to the NJCAA national championship tournament.

"Winning Friday would give us great momentum going into the playoffs," Kuhl said. "Morrisville's going to give us a great game – they're having a solid season – but our kids our really playing as a unit right now. Friday's game should be a great one to watch."

Offensively, Hudson Valley is led by a pair of out-of-town freshmen. Forward Jim Sturges (East Hampton, MA) has contributed a team-high 55 points. Forward Dean Vandervort (Northern Burlington, NJ) ranks second with 53 points.

On defense, two Section II products protect the goal. Clifton Park native Jason Vasco (CBA), a freshman, has posted a 2.10 goals against average. First-year goaltender B.J. Sheehan (Albany Academy), of Schenectady, is allowing just 2.40 goals per game.

Hudson Valley Community College, located in Troy, offers more than 50 degree and certificate programs in four academic divisions; Business; Engineering and Industrial Technologies; Health Sciences; and Liberal Arts and Sciences. One of 30 community colleges in the State University of New York system, Hudson Valley has an enrollment of more than 9,000 students each year, and is known as a leader in distance learning initiatives and worker retraining.